It was early in the spring of 1994. The four walls that were meant to provide sanctuary now held my heart captive. My heart whispered a silent plea while beating out of control. I willed an unuttered prayer to break free of those walls and find audience at the throne of a merciful Father. The miniature chairs held our bodies as our souls anxiously paced, communing identical hopes and worries.

Respite came in the form of a memory as I grasped onto Brad’s strength. I fairly danced into the room, my 4-year-old daughter hanging onto my skirt as she skipped along, her golden curls bouncing with anticipation. My eyes took in the child-friendly artwork on the four walls as I skated the perimeter. Brooke immediately gravitated to the miniature chairs and began “reading” with her legs crossed to her “students,” the numerous stuffed animals.

It was like Christmas. Not only were we picking up the very best present ever, but we were the keepers of the big surprise secret. In walked Guam Social Services personnel, one of them with a brown little bundle. My twitching arms could not be stilled. Outstretched, like magnets they drew the babe in and became his sole covering. Brooke flew off her chair, abandoning her obedient students for a glimpse of her brother.That day, peace flowed from the four walls.

That was over a year ago. Our minds skittered from one thought to another–now justifying leaving Bryan at home, now chiding ourselves for not having the attorney present, jumping from comfort to chaos and back again. The past year had been one of anxiety. Pushing the evil whisperings of doubt as they’d creep in, we simply could not prepare for the worst, as some had advised us to do.

Once parental rights were terminated, the selection process took a turn we’d never imagined. They wanted to take Bryan and place him in a family with darker skin. As our motionless bodies occupied seats meant for children, our racing souls darted through thoughts. The minutes dragged, feeling like marathon hours that we could hardly endure. My cracked voice broke the physical silence with a half whisper.

“Are you praying?”

The spoken words triggered other physical responses. The tears that began as a trickle soon became a heavy stream. My palms, moistened with nervous sweat, began to shake like the tremor of a quake. Just when I felt like my body would involuntarily bolt, the door creaked and thundering footsteps cut the silence.

This time when Guam Social Services entered the room, instead of carrying a little brown bundle, they held our future. Her voice rocked the previously quiet room, booming over the pounding of my heart.

“We’ve decided to place the baby permanently in your care. We’ll continue our monthly visits…”

Her voice trailed off as Brad’s arms encircled my shaking body. My heavy tears turned into sobs as the four walls once again held the best present ever. It was like Christmas all over again. It was as if I’d seen the walls break loose as my whispers escaped like twinkling gems of gratitude being caught and carried by angels to His throne.